Should You Buy Your Boss a Christmas Gift?

Ah, the age old question: Should I buy my boss a Christmas gift? You’ve already set your Christmas budget, and you are planning your purchases. You know who in your family to buy for, but you keep getting stuck at this one, tiny little question.

Believe it or not, whether or not to buy a boss a gift is a big dilemma for most people and that we tend to come across year and year again. Hopefully we can answer this question once and for all.

First of all, buying your boss a Christmas gift – even something small and thoughtful – can be a good career move and score you some brownie points. It shows your boss that you are thinking about them over the holidays, and it’s also nice to show them a little appreciation. While you’re in that thinking mode you can also buy a gift for your child’s teacher too – so that they can get better grades/look good in front of their teacher.

However, giving your boss a Christmas gift may leave you seeming like a major suck up if you don’t consider the below factors.

Christmas gift for boss


image via Flickr – SparkieBlues

How Is Your Relationship With Your Boss?

If you rarely see your boss, and don’t really know them very well, buying your boss a Christmas gift may be overkill. While it seems like a nice gesture, your boss might see it as a tacky attempt to gain their attention and suck up.

If you have a good relationship with your boss, you should treat them like you would anybody else with whom you have a good relationship. If you only give your friends cards, only give them a card.

Are You Having an Office Gift Giving Swap?

You are really going to stand out as a suck up if you give your boss (and only your boss) a gift outside of the office gift swap – unless, of course, you pull their name.

If you really want to give your manager something outside of the office gift swap, a card will suffice and maintain your relationship.

Do They Usually Do Something For Staff?

If your boss usually takes their reports out for lunch during the holidays to show their appreciation, or gives a card or a gift card or something of that nature, you should probably return the favour and get your boss something.

A great piece of advice in this scenario is to give your boss something that is around the same value as what they give you.

Company gifts (bonuses, etc) do not count – you don’t have to give your boss a $1000 gift if they give you a Christmas bonus, because that bonus is not coming out of their own pocket.

Do Your Colleagues Give?

You don’t want to be the only one in the office to not give a gift to your boss.

If most or all of your colleagues get them something small, follow suit and do the same. Perhaps going in with your colleagues to give your boss a nice bottle of wine and a group card, or a gift card to their favorite store that has a higher value may work better than every single person giving small gifts.


There is no hard and fast rule as to whether or not you should buy your boss a gift, however, these considerations will be helpful to help you make your decision.

17 thoughts on “Should You Buy Your Boss a Christmas Gift?

  1. All great points. Office culture plays such a big role. If everyone in your department gifts up, it’s puts you in a difficult spot if you decide not to. But for me personally, while I give my staff gifts to show my appreciation for all the work they do throughout the year, I prefer they not do the same. It just seems awkward. I love a personal card and that’s about it.

  2. I prefer to send a greeting card. To save money from buying card, I can make it through computer and some image from internet. I know he appreciate the card.

  3. While a lot does depend on company culture and probably the boss temperament…I’d chance to say its an awesome idea to buy your boss a gift. I mean, Christmas is a giving time to spread the love and all…am sure one’s boss would appreciate a little surprise…We can all do with receiving some kindness too, especially bosses 🙂 It doesn’t have to be something pricey…a bottle of wine has served me right in the past…lol

  4. Great post! Honestly, Daisy, I hadn’t thought about whether or not we’ll give Rick’s boss a gift, but at first glance, I’m guessing we will. He and Rick have a pretty good relationship, and he’s treated Rick very well this year, compensation-wise. But I’m guessing the gift will be something “thoughty”, like homemade baked goods or something.

  5. When I was working on a farm a few years ago, my boss have me a turkey. Should I have responded with a ham? 🙂

    At my current job, you typically only work with any individual supervisor for a couple weeks at a time before moving on to a new project. Aside from the fact that most of us get furloughed through the winter, I don’t think that is the kind of environment to bring out workplace gifts

  6. These are all great questions to think about. This year is my first year at my school site for the holidays and I’m unaware of their gift-giving etiquette. I think they do a “Secret Santa” but I really don’t know for sure. However, what I’ll probably do for the whole administration staff is buy coffee and bagels (as I did at the end of last year). That way the office staff is covered!

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever given my boss a gift, and in times where I’ve served as manager, I would not have wanted one. I think gift exchanges are for people who mean something to you on a personal level, not a professional level.

  8. Generally the only way to get away with this if you really feel like you need brownie points is to give a gift to everyone in your group and include your boss. But generally I’d just skip it. Your boss should be buying something for you, not the other way around.

  9. I haven’t been that close with any of my bosses that I felt the impulse to buy a Christmas gift. Of course, I am one of the lower lemmings on the totem pole so I really don’t have to worry about it. 🙂

  10. I don’t think I’d be giving to my boss, lol. At one of my past jobs, we got presents for everyone so I definitely participated. At this place, I don’t think they do so I probably won’t. I might give one for my coworker who I share an office with but that’s about it.

  11. I got my boss a gift in 2007. Once the crisis hit though, I stopped and haven’t given anything else since. Nobody else gives gifts anymore so I haven’t give it much thought. It’s nice having one less thing to worry about.

  12. Oof, this is so awkward at my company. Some of the managers give each other gifts, some don’t. The president buys stuff for the executive team, but uses company funds to do it. Some of my direct reports buy stuff for me, some don’t. Arg!

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